Workshop: Hip-Hop Pedagogy, 2/14

Our colleagues at the Futures Initiative (at the CUNY Graduate Center) send along this invitation for a workshop on hip-hop and pedagogy moderated by Futures Initiative Fellow Kashema Hutchinson. It’s at the CUNY Graduate Center on February 14 at 12pm in room 9207.

This workshop will be conducted as a cypher, a hip hop cultural event, such as freestyling or battling that takes place in a circle, to discuss the relationship between the elements of hip-hop culture and pedagogy in traditional and non-traditional educative spaces. Narratives and infographics will be used to examine the different types of hip-hop pedagogy. Topics such as identity, school to confinement pathways and mass incarceration will also be addressed. Participants will include students from the Undergraduate Leaders Fellowship.

Continue reading “Workshop: Hip-Hop Pedagogy, 2/14”

Tomorrow: “Equity, Health, and Learning: Social Determinants of Academic Success” at the Graduate Center

Earlier this semester, the OpenLab team hosted an Open Pedagogy event focused on how open digital pedagogy can support student success in gateway courses. There was a great recap of the event. There was also a linked workshop that showcased some tools on the OpenLab and some practices OpenLab members have put in place to foster student success in their courses and at City Tech.

The Futures Initiative has sent an invitation to all interested to join them for “Equity, Health, and Learning: Social Determinants of Academic Success” (details below in the invitation). This event seems like a great way to continue this conversation beyond City Tech. Added bonus: if you attended our event or workshop, or if you’ve gotten to know the OpenLab team, you’ll notice below that OpenLab digital pedagogy fellow Jesse Rice-Evans is one of the speakers at this Futures Intiative event!

Here’s the invitation:

Dear All,

Please join us on Thursday, November 1, 2018 from 12pm to 1pm at The Graduate Center (Room 9204) for a collaborative discussion that will bring together students, faculty and administrators across CUNY to discuss challenges and opportunities that students face outside of the classroom that impact their success inside of the classroom including access to transportation, healthcare, housing, and food.

Speakers will include Peggy Groce, Former Director, Office of Travel Training, District 75, New York City Department of Education, Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor at CUNY School of Public Health, Chris Palmedo, Associate Professor of Media Marketing, & Communications at CUNY School of Public Health, and Jesse Rice-Evans, Ph.D. Student, English, The Graduate Center, CUNY.

This panel, moderated by Futures Initiative Fellows Jessica Murray and Adashima Oyo, is part of The University Worth Fighting For, a series of workshops that tie student-centered, engaged pedagogical practices to institutional change, race, equality, gender, and social justice.

This event is free. Please RSVP here, seating is limited!

You can also join us:

  • Watching the livestream at bit.ly/FuturesED-live (unedited footage will be available after the workshop for a limited time under “Recent Videos”, and we’ll post an edited version soon)
  • Following the hashtag #fight4edu and tweeting your questions/comments
  • During and after the event, adding your questions and comments to this Google Doc

Please feel free to share this invitation with your network. More details are below.

Panelist Bios

Nicholas Freudenberg is Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Social/Critical Psychology at CUNY and Director of Healthy CUNY, a university-wide initiatives that promotes health for academic success. For more than 30 years, Freudenberg has worked with community organizations, social services agencies, government and others to develop, implement and evaluate policies and programs that promote more equitable access to education and health for children and young people. Healthy CUNY’s recent report Promoting Health for Academic Success is available here. It describes how depression and anxiety, sexual and reproductive health problems, lack of access to health care and food insecurity undermine the academic success of CUNY undergraduates and how CUNY can act to assist students to overcome these issues.

Peggy Groce initiated Travel Training in the NYC Department of Education in 1970 for students with intellectual disabilities who aged out of school at 17 years of age unless they could travel independently to school. Over time, travel training instructional services were offered to students with diverse disabilities in the NYC public schools. Peggy is a strong advocate for including the teaching of disability history and the disability rights movement in our education system, especially to youth with disabilities, parents, educators, and staff of service provider agencies.

Chris Palmedo is an associate professor in the Community Health and Social Sciences department at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. He teaches courses in health communications, social marketing, and health advocacy, and conducts an online certificate program in social marketing for health offered to students all over the world.  As a Healthy CUNY Initiative faculty fellow, his research is concerned with helping improve student access to mental health and health insurance. He recently co-authored a college textbook which covers personal health in a public health context.

Jesse Rice-Evans (she/her/hers) is a queer femme rhetorician and PhD candidate at the Graduate Center researching intersections of language, disability, and digital culture. She’s the author of five books, including HONOR//SHAME, an interactive digital chapbook out from Gap Riot Press (2018), and The Uninhabitable, forthcoming from Sibling Rivalry Press in 2019. She teaches queer texts and composition at the City College of New York.

Moderated by:
Jessica Murray, Ph.D. Candidate, Developmental Psychology, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Adashima Oyo, Ph.D. Student, Social Welfare, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Recap: Remixing and Sharing in Open Digital Pedagogy

Image Credit: starsandspirals

On Thursday, October 18th, CUNY faculty and staff got together for the second of two Open Pedagogy Events planned for Fall 2018, Remixing and Sharing in Open Digital Pedagogy. This event asked: What opportunities for sharing and remixing teaching materials do open digital environments like the OpenLab present? What responsibilities do you have when you share and remix the materials of others? What responsibilities do you have when you make your materials open and available to be remixed? What responsibilities do others have toward you when they remix and reuse your materials?

City Tech faculty from English, Mathematics, Computer Systems Technology (CST), and Biology, and the library  joined us in the Faculty Commons (N227). 

A special thanks to Andy McKinney, former OpenLab Community Team member, who joined us from CUNY Central, where he has been working on scaling up OER (Open Educational Resources) initiatives CUNY-wide. A huge thank you also to Cailean Cooney, OER librarian at CityTech, who has been working with faculty to create OERs on the OpenLab. Thank you both for attending the event, sharing your insights regarding open education and the steps being taken throughout CUNY to promote a culture of responsible sharing and remixing of course materials.

It is fairly common for instructors teaching a course for the first time to begin by looking into existing educational materials that can support them in devising a syllabus, assignments, and lesson plans. Such materials can be shared peer-to-peer among colleagues, as well as consulted—to the extent that they are “open” or publicly and freely available for reuse on the internet and the OpenLab. Many instructors acknowledge that sharing and borrowing educational materials has been part of what has made them successful educators. However, many also have honest reservations about making course materials open and sharing them freely given the significant time and effort they take to create. This recognition prompted and guided the evening’s discussion.

We began with a self-reflection and discussion of: “Creating and teaching a course can be time-consuming and challenging, and sometimes instructors are hesitant to make this work (either the process or product) public. How do you [faculty]  feel about sharing your course materials and pedagogy (syllabi, assignments, lesson plans) with others? What about using someone else’s materials? What benefits are there in doing so? What reservations might you have?”  During the discussion portion, we discussed a number of non-discipline-specific benefits and drawbacks of sharing:

  1. None of us can do it alone! At some point in our careers, all of us have been asked to teach courses we have not taught before. The ability to inherit existing syllabi or consult the OpenLab and other OERs for inspiration has been crucial. Open materials makes the sharing of instructional materials a public practice and validates it as a necessary point of departure for teaching.
  2. Remixing materials makes us better instructors. Whether we are teaching a course for the first or twentieth time, we all benefit from sharing ideas with colleagues and consulting open materials. Open materials get our creative juices flowing, serve as inspiration for new assignments and lesson plans, and introduce us to new readings and open textbooks that support accessible (and no cost!) student learning. When we share, borrow, and adapt, we participate in a process of collaborative pedagogy that puts a diversity of perspectives and tried and true practices into conversation. We are better instructors for recognizing each other’s wealth of experience and building on it. We can also model for students how to properly cite the work of others and debunk the myth that successful scholarship should be done alone.
  3. What is the value of sharing? Concerns and Reservations
  • When materials are open, how can we adequately value and remunerate the labor that an educator put into creating pedagogical tools? We can give proper attribution to the creators of the materials we borrow, but is such rhetorical acknowledgement sufficient? How can we ensure that the labor instructors put into pedagogy is visible and valued in concrete ways?
  • Do we need more time officially built into our instructor/ staff schedules for the sharing of pedagogical practice?
  • Along these lines, discussants expressed concern that creating an OER –or putting together an open textbook—is less well compensated than writing a textbook for a private industry publisher.
  • Quite frequently, instructors do not cite past course content creators when they borrow materials. This makes the labor of those who share invisible.
  • Many courses on the OpenLab remain closed—unavailable for consultation except by course members. This can create a tension for those who chose to keep their work open but find that their willingness to share isn’t always reciprocated.
  • Is it possible that students think less of an instructor who borrows and adapts the materials of others? Or do they recognize the value that is added when instructors build on existing tools and remix them for their own students and course?
  • How can we create a loop wherein, in addition to thanking and crediting those whose materials we borrow and adapt, we give them concrete feedback on how their materials worked in our (adapted) courses? In essence, how can we make reusing and remixing a collaborative and communicative process?

Sharing and Adapting on the OpenLab

As we shared our experiences of sharing and adapting course materials, we noted that the OpenLab, in more ways than one, lends itself to the kind of open, collaborative pedagogy many of us aspire to. Instructors can peek into the courses of others that are left open, consult their syllabi and assignments, and use these as a point of departure in creating and teaching their courses. OERs and the “shared cloning” functionality take sharing a step further, offering built-in mechanisms to keep full courses open, available for reuse and even exact copying. We offered an overview of these two new OpenLab features related to OERs and shared cloning:

  • OERs refer to educational content that is free (educational materials are provided at no cost to students) and openly-licensed, meaning that the creators of the educational content have made their work available for others to use. Learn more here. Faculty and staff have been building OER course sites on the OpenLab. The August release of the OpenLab added an OER badge, which appears on the avatar of course or project designated as an OER. Courses and project with an OER badge can also be searched for in course and project directories. You can learn more about the OER badge and searching for OERs on the OpenLab here.
  • The August release of the OpenLab also made changes to the course cloning functionality, called “shared cloning.” This feature can be enabled to allow other faculty to clone a course that is designated as available for shared cloning. Course creators who choose to enable the feature will be allowing other faculty and staff to clone the course, creating an exact copy of the existing course, including all content created or uploaded by the course admin, which can be reused, remixed, and transformed in the new version. Cloned versions of the course will include a list of credits on the course profile and in the site sidebar with attribution to any of the original courses. If the original course was itself a clone of another faculty member’s course, that course, as well as all previous iterations, would be included in the credits list as well. You can find instructions on shared cloning in our help section.
  • Please note that our linked 11/1 workshop on “Sharing & Remixing on the OpenLab” will cover how to use the shared cloning functionality, and how to search for, link back to, and properly cite OERs. RSVP here. Agenda here.

We also named a few additional resources for those interested in sharing and borrowing, both on and off the OpenLab:

  • In the Spotlight is a blog series on The Open Road that highlights a different innovative OpenLab site each week. Review the archive, and check back weekly for inspiration. The courses/ projects highlighted change every week!
  • The L4 site (Living Lab Learning Library) is “a resource exchange for innovative teaching practices, ideas big and small, and a place where educators within and beyond City Tech can interact with each other, share classroom activities, and search for inspiration.”
  • The OpenLab is home to a growing list of OERs. Find them easily by going to the search page and filtering for OERs.
  • The Teaching and Learning Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY has a site called Visible Pedagogy in which members of the CUNY community dialogue about teaching and learning.

As we wrapped up the evening, we recognized that some of the barriers to valuing open pedagogy are deeply institutionally entrenched throughout academia. To be sure, much work still remains to be done to reinforce the value (financially and otherwise) of open pedagogy. There is much work to be done to proliferate the culture of responsible sharing that undergirds open pedagogy. Proper citation practices are a good starting place, but continued development of best practices for sharing and adapting existing open course materials is also necessary, for  like all things, these will age and need to continually updated. As noted, the culture around sharing and remixing at CityTech is, opening up. The (growing) resources for making digital pedagogy open on the OpenLab are a testament to this.

Have you ever borrowed or shared your instructional materials?

Have there, in your experience, been benefits to keeping pedagogy “open”?

Do you share any of the concerns about sharing and remixing outlined above?

Do you have any additional resources for sharing and remixing you think should be highlighted?

Join the conversation below!

____________________________________________

All-in-all, it was a great evening! Thanks to all who attended the event for a rich and provocative discussion, and for the support from the Provost’s Office.

Join us for our upcoming linked workshop:

  • Workshop, Thursday 11/1 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM (AG-21): A hands-on look at remixing and sharing on the OpenLab RSVP

Learn more about workshops and office hours on The Open Road!

Check out our student blogging team, The Buzz!

Open Pedagogy Event (10/18): Remixing and Sharing in Open Digital Pedagogy

Abstract image showing colors "remixing"
Image Source: Mary Chadwick

Thursday October 18th, 2018, 4:30-6:00pm (Faculty Commons, N227)

*Refreshments will be served. (Thanks to the Provost’s Office for its generous support of this event!)

*Part-time faculty are eligible to receive a stipend for participation.

*Please RSVP by commenting on this post. Please share this invitation with your colleagues!

Join the OpenLab Team, City Tech faculty and staff, and CUNY colleagues at our next Open Pedagogy event, where we’ll be discussing remixing and sharing in open digital pedagogy. The OpenLab and other open digital environments create new opportunities for developing readily adaptable teaching materials, easily sharing and remixing content, and promoting collaboration within and across disciplines. We’ll introduce improved ways to highlight and search for open content (such as OERs) on the OpenLab and a new “shared cloning” functionality that allows other faculty to more easily adapt OpenLab course content. Together, we’ll explore benefits and uses of these developments for open teaching and learning, as well as the ethics and best practices of sharing and remixing.

We’ll consider the following questions:

  • What opportunities for sharing and remixing teaching materials do open digital environments like the OpenLab present?
  • How does this contrast with more traditional teaching environments?
  • What are the ethics and best practices of sharing and remixing?
  • As someone participating in an open digital environment, what responsibilities do you have? What responsibilities do you envision for others?

Recommended Readings:

Recap: Open Digital Pedagogy in Gateway Courses

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Image Info: “Acrylics” by Tracy Solomon

Thursday September 27th marked the first of two Open Pedagogy Events planned for Fall 2018, Open Digital Pedagogy in Gateway Courses. This event asked: how can open digital platforms like the OpenLab support and help address the challenges present in gateway courses across the disciplines? Faculty who taught gateway courses (or intro courses, which can have similar challenges) in English, Mathematics, Computer Systems Technology (CST), Business, and Biology joined us in the Faculty Commons (N227) from City Tech and other CUNY campuses. 

A special thanks for Jonas Reitz, professor of mathematics and Director of the Opening Gateways project, and Robert Lestón, professor of English and Director of First Year Writing, who led the conversation with their experiences teaching and coordinating faculty in relation to gateway courses.


Before sharing more of the evening’s discussion, let’s clarify what a “gateway course” is:

Officially speaking, gateway courses are courses recognized across CUNY campuses as required, entry-level courses for specific majors. For participating majors, students must take 3 of the defined gateway courses in order to continue with the major and take higher level courses. These gateway courses are transferable across CUNY institutions, meaning students start and finish their degrees at different campuses without fear that credits will transfer. Learn more here.


At an academic level, gateway courses are entry-level courses that introduce students to their chosen fields and disciplines and to skills deemed necessary for success in college. In a similar view, success or failure in these courses has consequences not only for the student’s participation in the course, but for their overall college experience and outcome. This understanding prompted the evening’s discussion.

We began with a self-reflection and discussion of: “What challenges do you [faculty] face when supporting student success in gateway or introductory courses? How Have you [faculty] addressed these challenges?” During the discussion portion, we discussed a number of non-discipline-specific challenges that threaten student success including:

1. The newness of college: College comes with new routines in an unfamiliar setting, a lack of knowledge of the supports and resources available and how to access them, a lack of community connections, a heightened level of academic rigor – lots of newness at once.  

2. Institutional constraints

  • Space constraints at City Tech, for example, pose challenges to independent and group study among students, and faculty or faculty-student meetings and gatherings (whether academic and/or social in nature).
  • Class sizes for gateway and introductory courses are often overwhelming in terms of size and workload, and limiting in terms of how you can structure the course and discuss the material.
  • Gateway and introductory courses often have predetermined assessments that may contradict a faculty members pedagogical values and strategies for addressing student success.
  • Adjunct, part-time and often short-term faculty increasingly teach gateway and introductory courses. Low pay and minimal contract rights among adjunct and part-time faculty (and the stress of needing to take on other work to fill the gap) limits the support they can provide students, distances them from their department’s community and decisions, and may result in high turnover rates.

3. Home-life constraints: Some of our students lack access to a computer or quiet space at home. Some face time constraints due to household-supporting activities like part-time or full-time work or care work activities. In turn, these time constraints can raise questions about the value of pursuing a degree at all – in the minds of the student and/or their family.

Do you recognize these challenges in your own courses?

In laying these challenges out, we discussed which of these challenges we could and had tried to resolve, and which seemed largely out of our control. We don’t, for example, have much control over the constraints posed by a student’s home-life. However, there are steps we do or could take in supporting students and faculty in overcoming related or other challenges. Faculty attendees discussed crafting scaffolded assignments, group projects, low stakes writing assignments, using mobile-friendly digital platforms (like the OpenLab) so students could submit assignments via their phone as needed, and more.

Recognition of these challenges and more encouraged City Tech’s Math Department to partner with faculty and staff at BMCC and the OpenLab to initiate the Title V grant-funded project, “Opening Gateways to Completion: Open Digital Pedagogies for Student Success in STEM. Known as Opening Gateways for short, this collaboration integrates the OpenLab with another open source software called WebWorks with the aim of helping students and faculty address (some of) the challenges posed by gateway courses. You can learn more details about the project on their OpenLab site, but in short – this integration allows students to complete individualized homework problems online and get answers and feedback right away, and to ask questions and get support from their professor and fellow students in a community discussion forum. The grant included a Faculty Professional Development component (yearly cohorts of Fellows who attend a weekly seminar) and dedicated resources to building Open Educational Resources – which might replace expensive textbooks and offer faculty more control over the curriculum.

The remainder of the evening was spent discussing how and to what extent Opening Gateways had addressed some of the challenges discussed earlier, and how similar lessons could be applied in disciplines other than mathematics.

Through the conversation, the seemed to be consensus around a few ideals –

1. Professional Development: Sharing of resources and teaching strategies; also helps with curriculum coordination, and social support and community building.

1B. Supporting Inclusion of part-time faculty: Any professional development initiatives should explicitly include resources and additional compensation for part-time faculty (who not only teach the majority of these courses, but of all courses at CUNY – conservatively estimated, part-time faculty make up 56% of all faculty at CUNY). Additionally, course resources should be readily available in an easily accessible place – see the First Year Writing site for a good example of how the OpenLab can be helpful in this endeavor. These qualities are a part of the Opening Gateways fellows program, and a Fellow, who is an adjunct and who attended the even reflected that it was nice to be treated as someone whose ideas mattered; to have an invitation to the table; to feel invested in (to paraphrase).

2. The OpenLab can help: The OpenLab is not a silver bullet – but the platform does have features that can limit barriers to student success in your gateway courses. You can make the information publicly or privately available and mobile responsive by housing resources for your course or curriculum on the OpenLab. The blogging platform can help cultivate community in the classroom by hosting public class discussions; and students can get experience with public writing. For your courses/departments, you may consider creating Open Educational Resources.

Do these strategies make sense for you?

What seemed useful or not about the Opening Gateways project?

What other strategies would you suggest?

What challenges do these strategies pose for you and how might you address them?

Join the conversation below!


All-in-all, it was a great evening! Thanks to all who attended the event for a lively conversation, and for the support from the Faculty Commons and Charlie Edwards.


Join us for 3 upcoming related events:

  • Workshop, Thursday 10/4 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM  (G604). A hands-on look at supporting student success on the OpenLab RSVP
  • Event, Thursday 10/18 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM (N227): A discussion about remixing and sharing in Open Digital Pedagogy
  • Workshop, Thursday 11/1 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM (AG-21): A hands-on look at remixing and sharing on the OpenLab RSVP

Learn more about workshops and office hours on The Open Road!

Check out our student blogging team, The Buzz!

Open Pedagogy Event (9/27): Open Digital Pedagogy in Gateway Courses

st michael's hospital; pedestrian bridge between the new research and education building (north) and the old patient care building (south) Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute; International Centre for Healthcare Education & Research
Image Source: Paul Bica

Thursday September 27th, 2018, 4:30-6:00pm (Faculty Commons, N227)

*Refreshments will be served. (Thanks to the Faculty Commons for its generous support of this event!)

*Part-time faculty are eligible to receive a stipend for participation.

*Please RSVP by commenting on this post. Please share this invitation with your colleagues!

Join the OpenLab Team, City Tech faculty and staff, and CUNY colleagues at our next Open Pedagogy event, where we’ll be discussing gateway courses and open digital pedagogy. Together we’ll explore how to help students be successful in introductory courses in the curriculum, looking to the successful model of City Tech and BMCC’s Title V grant-funded project, “Opening Gateways to Completion: Open Digital Pedagogies for Student Success in STEM.” While this grant focuses on math courses, we will extend the conversation to include gateway courses across the disciplines. In addition, we’ll consider the challenges posed by the reality that the majority of gateway courses at City Tech are taught by contingent faculty. What kinds of support or opportunities does the OpenLab present for teaching and learning in these contexts? Attendees will share, discuss, and learn strategies for helping faculty and students succeed in these courses, and leave with a better understanding of how open digital pedagogy can scaffold students’ learning experiences in these courses and throughout the rest of their academic careers.

This Open Pedagogy event was already scheduled when PSC-CUNY announced the contract rally taking place at the same time. In keeping with the spirit of that event, we will incorporate discussion of labor issues related to gateway courses, including the reality that the majority of these courses (and all courses) in CUNY are taught by adjunct faculty.

We’ll consider the following questions:

  • What are gateway courses, and what are some of the challenges students face in them?
  • The majority of gateway courses at City Tech (and CUNY) are taught by contingent labor. How does adjunctification affect teaching and learning in these courses? What kind of resources can be provided to adjuncts to support their instruction in these courses?
  • What strategies can we share across disciplines to support students in these classes?
  • How can open digital pedagogy help students succeed in these gateways? How can the OpenLab enrich students’ college experience both academically and through community building?

Suggested Readings:

Teaching and Learning with New Majority Students: Lessons Learned from the CUNY Humanities Alliance

We’re excited to share with you The Futures Initiative’s final event of the semester:

The Futures Initiative is pleased to invite you to the final event in our Thursday Dialogues series this year:

Teaching and Learning with New Majority Students: Lessons Learned from the CUNY Humanities Alliance
Thursday, May 3 | 12:15 to 2:00 PM | The Graduate Center, Room C201
RSVP at bit.ly/TeachingCUNYHums

Join The Futures Initiative and the CUNY Humanities Alliance for a discussion about community college student-centered teaching and learning in the humanities and social sciences! In this roundtable discussion, Graduate Teaching Fellows will discuss their experiences and what they have learned through their participation in the program, which combines faculty mentorship, professional development workshops and resources with the opportunity to design and teach a course during three semesters at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY.

Our roundtable of speakers are all Mellon Graduate Teaching Fellows with the CUNY Humanities Alliance, and will include:

  • Kahdeidra Monét Martin (Urban Education)
  • Jenn Polish (English)
  • Micheal Angelo Rumore (English)
  • Jacob Sachs-Mishalanie (Music)
  • Inés Vañó García (Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages)
  • Alison Walls (Theatre)

The discussion will be moderated by Kitana Ananda, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow for the CUNY Humanities Alliance and the Futures Initiative.

The discussion will address questions such as:

  • What does it mean to teach the humanities at a community college? How do doctoral students translate their specialized research into their teaching of introductory and general education courses?
  • What kinds of connections have been forged between community college faculty, doctoral students, and undergraduates in the first two years of this program?
  • What are the lessons of this program so far for doctoral education and the future of the professoriate, at the Graduate Center and beyond?

Co-sponsored by the CUNY Humanities Alliance. A light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

About the program:
The CUNY Humanities Alliance is dedicated to training Ph.D. students in the most successful methods for teaching humanities courses in some of the country’s most diverse undergraduate classrooms, while creating new opportunities and pathways for the “new majority” of students in today’s community colleges. The program is a partnership between the Graduate Center and LaGuardia Community College, with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

If you have any questions about the event, contact Kitana Ananda at kananda@gc.cuny.edu.

Thank you, and we hope to see you on May 3rd!

Publics, Politics, and Pedagogy: Remaking Higher Education for Turbulent Times

Our colleagues at The Futures Initiative pass along an invitation for this coming Wednesday:

Poster for FI Event-Publics, Politics, PedagogyThe Futures Initiative is pleased to invite you to attend our Spring Forum on “Publics, Politics, and Pedagogy: Remaking Higher Education for Turbulent Times” on March 28 at The CUNY Graduate Center (9:00am-6:00pm | The Skylight Room, 9100 | RSVP ).

Part of our “University Worth Fighting For” series, this event is an opportunity to think through the unique intersections between interdisciplinary research, pedagogy, equity, and institutional change. We hope that you will join us for a series of roundtables and interactive workshops featuring faculty and students involved in our team-taught courses, the CUNY Undergraduate Leadership Program, and Humanities Alliance to address topics ranging from the current states and stakes of higher education to the relationship between aesthetics, politics, and citizenship.

Featured speakers include: Gilda Barabino, Claire Bishop, David Caicedo, Katherine Chen, Colette Daiute, Cathy N. Davidson, Shelly Eversley, Ofelia García, Amita Gupta, Wendy Luttrell, Ruth Milkman, Paul Ramírez Jonas, Rosario Torres-Guevara, and many more, including graduate and undergraduate students across CUNY. There will be a reception to follow.

Please see the attached flyer for the full program schedule. You can also find the schedule and other event details on our website. Please RSVP today and share this invitation widely with your network.

If you have any questions about this event, feel free to contact Frances Tran, Postdoctoral Fellow and Interim Associate Director of the Futures Initiative, at ftran@gc.cuny.edu.

Open Pedagogy Event (Th 3/22): Gateway Courses in Open Digital Pedagogy

Wooden and steel gate with hand pushing it open.
Image Source: Max Boschini

Thursday, March 22, 2018, 5:30-7:30pm (Faculty Commons, N227)

UPDATE: In anticipation of the impending snowstorm, we’re postponing this event. We’ll work on rescheduling and will let you know when this event is back on our calendar.

*Refreshments will be served.

*Part-time City Tech faculty are eligible to receive a stipend for participation.

*Please RSVP by commenting on this post. Please share this invitation with your colleagues at City Tech and beyond!

Join the OpenLab Team, City Tech faculty and staff, and CUNY colleagues at our next Open Pedagogy event, where we’ll be discussing gateway courses in open digital pedagogy. We’ll be discussing how to help students be successful in introductory courses in the curriculum, looking to the successful model of City Tech and BMCC’s Title V grant-funded project, “Opening Gateways to Completion: Open Digital Pedagogies for Student Success in STEM.” While this grant focuses on math courses, we will be extending the conversation to look at other gateway courses across the disciplines. You’ll have the opportunity to learn strategies for helping your students succeed in these courses, and how open digital pedagogy can scaffold their learning experiences in these courses and the rest of their academic careers.

We’ll consider the following questions:

  • What are gateway courses, and what are some of the challenges students face in them?
  • What strategies can we share across disciplines to support students in these classes?
  • How does open digital pedagogy help students succeed in these courses and their majors?

Suggested Readings:

Recap: Accessibility in Open Digital Pedagogy

A word map highlighting the different aspects of universal design.
Image Source: Giulia Forsythe

On Thursday February 22, a group of faculty and staff from City Tech and CUNY more broadly gathered to discuss Accessibility in Open Digital Pedagogy. Similar to our Fall 2015 event entitled, “Accessibility, Disability, and Open Digital Pedagogy“, this conversation approached accessibility from the frame of universal design, and asked, how can we design the college and classroom experience in ways that benefit our communities as a whole? To help facilitate discussion and provide insight, we were joined by invited guest, John Currie, Director of The Center for Student Accessibility.

Attendees brought their own ambitions to the evening’s discussion as well. One attendee was interested in thinking about the role of the human in mediating accessibility and disability practice in digital technology. Another was particularly interested in thinking about accessibility in relation to OERs (open educational resources): “How ‘open’ can an OER be if it’s not accessible?”, he asked. A related and unifying interest among the group was a desire to think about and address accommodations before they are needed; to plan and design our courses, classrooms and colleges with accessibility in mind from the get go.

The evening began with a free write and discussion about needs and accommodations in relation to our own learning, pedagogical practice and disciplinary standards. Specifically:

  • Think about your optimal working/learning environment. What strategies have you developed based on how you work/learn best?
  • Think about planning your courses or programs. What accommodations have you made either in general, or in response to a student self-identifying a particular need. What challenges have you faced in doing so?
  • Think about your discipline. What are the unique ways your discipline approaches needs and accommodations?

Thinking about how we make accommodations for ourselves and our learning – whether finding a quiet space, cutting oneself off from the internet, annotating text, and more – and how these personal accommodations differ in pursuit of similar goals, raised questions and key points that set the tone for the evening.

In thinking about making accommodations in our classrooms, one common anxiety among participants was how to create an inclusive learning environment without overcompensating for students in damaging ways. As John pointed out, the transition from high school to college is an adjustment for all students. For students with disabilities, the transition can be further complicated by both a shift in the level of accommodation they can expect from their faculty and school, and a growing need to learn to advocate for themselves and their needs on their way to full adulthood. Stunting this growth through overaccommodation or otherwise could create future challenges farther down the road.

Ultimately, a reframing of ‘accommodation’ at both the individual and classroom level is needed. Oftentimes we approach accommodation as a process of making things easier for students. However, at an individual level, we should focus on meeting students where they are, helping them to understand the skills they currently have and creating pathways for them to consciously realize the skills they need to acquire going forward. This is true of all students. At a classroom level, the principles of universal design can be helpful. Universal design asks that, instead of making specific accommodations on a student-by-student basis in hindsight, you should prepare your course spaces, practices, and material with a broad understanding of capabilities in mind. John described this as approaching your planning and praxis with an expanded notion of normal; with the understanding that students are not made the same, that many have challenges even if they aren’t officially recognized by The Center for Student Accessibility, and that creating multiple pathways to success is a good rule of thumb. Despite planning efforts, however, we must be open to adaptation – we must expect that things will come up and changes or additions will be made; universal design is not a one and done, but an iterative process that evolves through the course of our (pedagogical) practice.

Wondering how you can apply these principles of accessibility to your OpenLab sites?

Join us for an Accessibility-a-thon on Thursday March 8th from 1:30pm – 3:30pm in A441 (smaller library classroom). We hope to see you there! RSVP

As always, thank you to everyone who was able to join us for this event, and for your contributions to the conversation! And thank you to the Faculty Commons for your generous support of this event.


We have one more Open Pedagogy event this semester on Thursday March 22nd from 5:30pm – 7:00pm. Through this event we’ll discuss open digital pedagogy in relation to our gateway courses. Stay tuned for more information!